poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Wayne Miller was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and received a BA from Oberlin College in 1998. After a year working in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, he went on to receive his MFA from the University of Houston, where he studied with Adam Zagajewski.

Miller is the author of four poetry collections: Post– (Milkweed Editions, 2016), The City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011), The Book of Props (Milkweed Editions, 2009), and Only the Senses Sleep (New Issues, 2006). The poet Dana Levin describes Miller’s work as engaging “with grim wit and empathy, strong music and imagery, in poems alive to the intersections of the domestic and political.”

Miller is also known for his work as an editor and a translator. His editing projects include Literary Publishing in the 21st Century (Milkweed Editions, 2016), and he has translated two works by Moikom Zeqo, including I Don’t Believe in Ghosts (BOA Editions, 2007). With Kevin Prufer, he curates the Unsung Masters Series.

Among his awards are the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He currently teaches at the University of Colorado, where he edits the literary journal Copper Nickel. He lives in Denver.

Selected Bibliography

Post– (Milkweed Editions, 2016)
The City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011)
The Book of Props (Milkweed Editions, 2009)
Only the Senses Sleep (New Issues, 2006)


Tonight all the leaves are paper spoons
in a broth of wind. Last week
they made a darker sky below the sky.

The houses have swallowed their colors,
and each car moves in the blind sack
of its sound like the slipping of water.

Flowing means falling very slowly—
the river passing under the tracks,
the tracks then buried beneath the road.

When a knocking came in the night,
I rose violently toward my reflection
hovering beneath this world. And then 

the fluorescent kitchen in the window
like a page I was reading—a face
coming into focus behind it:

my neighbor locked out of his own party,
looking for a phone. I gave him
a beer and the lit pad of numbers

through which he disappeared; I found
I was alone with the voices that bloomed
as he opened the door. It's time

to slip my body beneath the covers,
let it fall down the increments of shale,
let the wind consume every spoon.

My voice unhinging itself from light,
my voice landing in its cradle—.
How terrifying a payphone is

hanging at the end of its cord.
Which is not to be confused with sleep—
sleep gives the body back its mouth.

From The Book of Props by Wayne Miller. Copyright © 2009 by Wayne Miller. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions. All rights reserved.

From The Book of Props by Wayne Miller. Copyright © 2009 by Wayne Miller. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions. All rights reserved.

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller is the author of Post- (Milkweed Editions, 2016) andThe City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011).

by this poet


Phones were ringing

in the pockets of the living
and the dead

the living stepped carefully among.
The whole still room

was lit with sound—like a switchboard—
and those who could answer

said hello. Then
it was just the dead, the living

trapped inside their bloody



It was a desire to jump narratives—

to find himself suddenly
encircled by different lights

in the distant hills. To find
the hum of the engine

conveying him forward

had altered its tone. The self
had to be asserted



When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
                                        It’s your mind
that touches your